Sales Innovation

What is Sales Innovation?

Sales innovation refers to the introduction of new ideas, methods, or technologies in the sales process to improve efficiency, effectiveness, and overall sales performance. It’s about finding novel ways to engage customers, sell products or services, and enhance the customer experience.

Sales innovation can manifest in various aspects of your sales workflow, including but not limited to:

  • Implementing new technology
  • Testing new sales techniques, strategies, methodologies
  • Targeting new markets or revenue streams
  • Improving customer experiences
  • Training your sales team
  • Optimizing sales operations and processes
  • Product/service innovation

Although “innovation” sounds like an after-the-fact concept that disrupts the market or creates an entirely new category, the reality is it’s a continuous process of testing and optimization. Within your organization, improvements in your products, services, business model, and sales process/methodology ultimately add up to an innovative sales motion.


Why is Innovation Important in Sales?

The term (and concept) of sales innovation has a broad array of applications, with varying degrees of significance. Maybe you’re planning a GTM strategy, and you have to carefully consider the methods and channels you’ll use to reach your target market. Or, maybe you’re simply trying a new technique in your sales calls.

Though the concept is inherently subjective, every understanding of it comes down to one word: progress.

Innovation is synonymous with moving forward, testing different approaches, and looking for ways to get better. It’s the key to survival in today’s competitive business landscape, where customers are exposed to an ever-growing list of products and services.

It’s simple, really: If you aren’t constantly testing and improving how you market and sell to customers, you’re falling behind.

Signs Your Business Can Benefit from Sales Innovation

Just because “innovation” has a positive connotation doesn’t mean there’s always a need for it. There’s an old saying: “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

So when should companies even consider introducing changes in their sales process? If any of the following sound like you, investing in sales innovation is the crucial push you need to keep moving forward:

  • Prospect feedback indicates a high degree of friction in the buying process.
  • Your sales cycle is too long (or longer than it used to be).
  • The quality of your leads is starting to fall off.
  • You don’t have a niche customer base.
  • Your budget has changed.
  • You’re tapping into a new market or launching a new product
  • A lack of sales alignment is a problem in your company.
  • You’re starting to lose more deals in the final stages.
  • Sales team members show high levels of burnout.
  • You’ve kept the same program for a while, and growth has stagnated.

With all that said, you’re guaranteed to need some sort of innovation, big or small, at some point. It’s endemic to business growth. Sometimes, it isn’t even in your control — for example, changes in your ICP’s preferred communication channels or advancements in technology.

In that sense, having kept your process unchanged for too long is, in itself, a reason to look for opportunities to innovate.

Innovative Sales Strategies to Boost Revenue

You don’t need to reinvent the wheel to innovate in sales. Here are a few unique ideas you can use to differentiate yourself from your competition and connect with buyers more effectively:

1. Build relationships with customers on social media.

In 2024, social selling is a must (really, it should already be a huge part of your strategy). Reps who use it close 40% to 50% more business.

Using social media, you create a more casual environment to get your message across. It also gives your potential customers the chance to look at your profile before replying to your message. This helps you (a) humanize yourself and (b) establish a connection you wouldn’t be able to through cold email or calling alone.

Of course, there are a few caveats to success with social selling:

  • Don’t outright pitch the person. Social media is a place to share information and hold conversations.
  • You need a social media profile that stands out to get noticed. A professional headshot and a bit of personality go a long way.
  • LinkedIn is by far the best platform for B2B selling80% of B2B leads from social media come from LinkedIn.

As a sales professional, publishing your own content is far and away the best way to engage potential buyers (and like-minded professionals). But engaging others’ content is also a great way to get your message out. Plus, if you’ve commented something insightful on a prospect’s content a few times, they’ll immediately recognize you when you DM them.

2. Leverage AI to personalize sales conversations.

No, you shouldn’t use it to copy/paste messages or blast 1,000 email addresses you found with Apollo. But you can easily configure a GPT to auto-populate certain data points and add content based on a prospect’s firmographic info, role, industry, and plenty of other parameters.

You can also use an AI-powered lead scoring system to determine which leads in your pipeline to focus on first. That way, you can spend more time on the people most likely to become customers (and actually be worth the effort).

3. Incorporate social proof throughout the sales cycle.

You’re probably already doing some form of customer marketing — a few case studies here and there and a couple testimonials from your best customers. Maybe a referral program. If you’re like most companies, the buck stops there.

The main problem companies run into when they include customer proof in their sales process is they don’t know where to put it. They put the same exact stories and quotes everywhere.

In reality, prospects’ priorities and concerns shift as they move through the sales funnel. Initially, they care about pain points (hence why they’re talking to you).

But, as they move closer to a decision, they start to care more about things like implementation, competitors, and whether your solution fits into their workflow. Plus, different members of the buying group will have their own concerns.

Almost all (86%) of B2B buyers look at social proof before deciding. For input from your customers to make any difference to them, it has to be in the right place at the right time and speak to their specific concerns.

4. Have happy customers provide references for your prospects.

When you hire a new sales rep, they probably leave you a list of 1-3 references. If they do well in an interview, you might call, talk to those references, and make your decision from there. If, on the call, they reinforce your positive impression of the candidate, you’re probably going to hire them.

For high-value deals, your customers probably want to do the same. Connecting them with a current customer who shares similar goals (and uses the product in the same way as they would) can massively influence their decision.

However, most companies don’t have any formal customer reference program. At best, they might have a list of contacts who are willing to talk to prospects on an ad-hoc basis. It’d be best to implement customer marketing software to help with this process.

5. Use chatbots and live chat to engage prospects on your website.

Sales conversions are 391% higher when companies respond in the first minute. By using a chatbot, you can respond in the first second. For that matter, you can proactively start the conversation (that is, pop up in the lower right-hand corner of their screen when they land on the website).

Whether or not people love talking to chatbots is up for debate, but one thing is for certain. They don’t love talking to sales reps. Three-quarters of them don’t, at least.

A chatbot can help with lead nurturing and qualification, too. It can first take them to the right pages on your site, where they can learn more about the products specifically for their use case. When they’re ready for sales consultation, the chatbot can ask them a series of questions that your team can use to segment them and prep for the call.

6. Implement a sales liaison.

A sales liaison is someone who acts as the intermediary between sales and marketing personnel. If sales/marketing alignment is a big challenge for your organization, it’s probably worth a shot to implement a sales liaison.

The goal is to get your sales, marketing, and customer success teams all on the same page so they can share information and collaborate more effectively.

As an example, sales reps can share what they learn from interactions with customers with the marketing team. In turn, marketers can address what they now know to be the most common concerns, selling points, and use cases in their messaging, content, and targeting.

7. Incentivize customer referrals and loyalty.

Customer loyalty programs are fantastic for consumer-facing businesses, but they’re typically not as widespread among B2B organizations. While referral programs might be more common, they’re still not used to their fullest potential very often.

Running a loyalty program is pretty simple. Make the prospect of providing a referral compelling by offering rewards they value. For a B2B organization, that may mean offering them exclusive access to product updates, certain cash rewards or discounts, and features in your content, based on their contribution. And, of course, use software that makes participation easy for them.

8. Optimize your pricing.

Price optimization is one of the best ways to differentiate. The closer you can get to the sweet spot between internal profitability and customer demand (plus price sensitivity), the more effective you’ll be at selling.

But companies don’t usually revisit pricing until it’s a dire problem. It doesn’t have to be that way. Always test different:

  • Payment schedules (weekly, monthly, yearly)
  • Contract lengths (monthly, annual, multi-year)
  • Discounts and promotions
  • Bundles and packages
  • Upsells

You can also try raising your prices, but be careful not to alienate your existing customers.

For complex contracts, price optimization software can help you minimize manual effort while accounting for all the factors that go into optimal pricing.

How to Prep the Sales Team for New Sales Strategies

It’s important to remember that implementing new strategies and tactics is only half the battle. Implementing innovative sales techniques means you’re there right alongside the rest of your sales organization.

It’s the leader’s job to guide the process, and it’s ultimately on them to align the team and get everyone pulling in the same direction.

To make sure your sales reps are prepared to use new techniques, follow these best practices:

  • Carefully explain to your team the reasons behind the changes and how they will benefit both the organization and customers
  • Encourage experienced sales reps to lead training sessions on techniques they excel in.
  • Create battle cards reps can use during future sales conversations.
  • Beyond traditional sales targets, create reward systems that recognize creative problem-solving, exceptional customer service, and teamwork.
  • Empower your team with the right tools and technology to support new strategies and tactics.

Measuring the Impact of Sales Innovation

There are several key metrics you can use to measure the impact of your sales innovation efforts. Here’s our list of the 10 most important:

  • Revenue growth — the net impact of all of your sales strategies on the bottom line
  • Market share growth — the net impact of all your sales strategies on the competitive landscape
  • Sales conversion rates — percentages of MQLs that convert to SQLs, leads to opportunities, and overall lead-to-sale conversions
  • Average deal size — an increase or decrease in the value of an average deal, post-implementation
  • Sales velocity — how quickly deals move through the pipeline (you can break this down into sub-variables, like time to quote or quote-to-cash cycle time)
  • Customer acquisition cost (CAC) — the cost it takes to acquire each new customer (before and after your new strategy, compared to additional revenue growth)
  • Churn rate — the percentage of customers who stop using your products or services over a given time period, or the percentage of recurring revenue your company lost
  • Customer lifetime value (CLV) — the total revenue your typical customer brings over the course of their relationship with your company
  • Customer engagement metrics — the level of customer engagement on social media, your website, and throughout various stages of the sales process
  • Quota attainment — how many of your reps hit their quota vs. how many don’t, and whether your business hits its revenue target as a whole

Measure each of these metrics using previous years’ data as a benchmark. That way, you know whether you’re improving and seeing ROI or not.

Technologies Supporting Sales Innovation

In this day and age, it’s practically impossible to compete without the right technologies. Meeting customer expectations and connecting with them in the right way at every step of the purchase journey requires a wide variety of tools and resources.

The software behind sales innovation includes:

Investing in these technologies will allow your sales team to sell more effectively, personalize the customer journey, and optimize pricing and contract management.

People Also Ask

How do you involve the Sales team in product innovation?

One way to involve the sales team in product innovation is to regularly seek their input when developing new products or features. Salespeople are the ones talking to customers on a daily basis, so they’re one of the best sources of current market trends and customer needs.

How does innovation increase sales?

Innovation increases sales by creating new or improved products that meet customers’ changing demands. Innovative companies are also able to differentiate from their competition, whether by sales and marketing strategies, branding, product pricing, quality, or customer service, which makes them more attractive to their target customers.